Sarah Handyside's Postcards from Mongolia

September 19th, 2000

Dear Professor Kipp,

Here I am, the first Kenyon student to study in Mongolia! It's hard to believe I've only been here for a month so far. I spent the first week in Ulaanbaatar (UB) for orientation + basic language instruction before heading out to central Mongolia, near Harahorin, for a 2-week homestay. I helped out with their household chores (milking the horses, making Vodka + assorted dairy products, etc.) and ate nearly every part of a sheep. I'm in Mongolia's northernmost province (Aimag) right now, near Tsagaan Nor + Lake Hovskol, living in a camp of Tsataan reindeer - herding people. I'm staying with a wonderful family in their teepee, called an ortz (sp?). I had to travel three days by horse to get here, but it's absolutely amazing. Yesterday, I went with my family's children to herd the reindeer. It was magical - riding a reindeer with snow-covered mountains all around just after a September blizzard. I've also been milking the reindeer, which is even more difficult than milking mares! That's the news from Mongolia . . . it's cold, I'm learning a lot, and my ISP will probably be about Mongolian script/linguistics. Hope all is well in Gambier + with your classes this fall. Take care! Sarah

November 11th, 2000

Hi Professor Kipp!

I can't believe I'm already working on my ISP. It seems like my time here has flown, though I think this last month will pass slowly . . . I'm starting to think about home too much. Since I last wrote, I spent some time in South Gobi Aimag riding camels across a vast landscape much like the one on this postcard. The Gobi was very cold, even wet at times, but I enjoyed working on some paleontological + archaeological digs. I spent a few weeks living in UB with my host family, going to school, and taking my final exams in Mongolian language while finalizing my proposal. So, I'm on ISP now. I wanted to research linguistics, but needed to get out of the city for a while. I changed my topic to Buryat traditional bootmaking - I hope to learn about the history, production, + sociology of Buryat boots, which are knee-high with upturned toes, thick soles, + unique stitching patterns. I'm living with a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ondorkhaan, the capital of Khentil Aimag in E. Mongolia while I do my research. That's all from here, hope you are well + the temps. are above freezing!